What Obama Wants for Your Children and Grandchildren
by Lindsey Burke, Heritage Foundation, August 14, 2013
Proud parents and grandparents are sharing photos of their kids’ first day of school. And as students head back, many states are pushing back—telling the Obama Administration that its federal education plan isn’t right for their students.
Anyone who has taught in a classroom knows how different children are from school to school—even from class to class. Teachers understand that the content, methods, and evaluations they use will differ depending on the makeup of the class. A teacher might teach her 9:40 a.m. Algebra II class differently than her 1:40 p.m. Algebra II class. And she’ll make that decision based on the pace of her students and their comprehension levels.
Kids have different needs and dreams. Are they working toward Advanced Placement Calculus with the hopes of attending a selective college, or are they planning to use the math skills they acquire in high school in a technical field in the workforce shortly after graduation?
The Common Core State Standards Initiative—an effort underway to set national standards and tests for what every child in public school will learn—turns a blind eye to the unique nature of teaching and learning, and to the fact that education is a quintessentially local issue.
The Obama Administration has tried to entice states into Common Core by tying states’ acceptance of the standards to education funding and waivers.
As Sen. Marco Rubio recently cautioned in an interview with Hugh Hewitt:
…the federal government never knows when to stop. When [it] starts taking, it never gives back and, quite frankly, I don’t think we need a National School Board. I think that we have local school boards for a reason because that’s where parents can most influence the process and get good results.
But what the Obama Administration wants for American children isn’t inevitable. Thankfully, state and local leaders concerned with Common Core’s impact have begun to push back.
After putting Common Core implementation on “pause,” Indiana is now withdrawing as a governing member of Common Core’s national tests. Alabama, Oklahoma, and Georgia have now withdrawn from the national tests. Utah withdrew from one of the testing consortia last year.
There are indications that other states are growing concerned about the national standards push. An Ohio legislator has a proposal to repeal Common Core, and Florida and Arizona have voiced concerns over the cost of the endeavor.
These are good first steps. But to ensure excellence in education, states should completely hop off the national standards bandwagon. You can read the Heritage proposal for how they can get started here.
America has reached an education policy fork in the road. One path leads toward choice and customization; the other, centralization and uniformity. If student-centered learning is our goal, only the path toward choice will take us there—and that includes choice in standards and assessments.
Lindsey Burke is Heritage’s Will Skillman Fellow in Education and a former high school teacher.
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